Enter the spotlight, Jacques Nienaber? Yes, that Jacques Nienaber! With the South African rugby team claiming all the glory in the match against New Zealand on the 2nd of October 2021, all eyes are on the new Springbok rugby coach; Jacques Nienaber. What makes this man tick, and what can he do for the SA Rugby team going forward?
The Springbok rugby coach is no stranger to the world of rugby coaching, mind you. He has held numerous coaching positions with the likes of the Stormers, Munster, and the Free State before becoming SA’s leading (coaching) man. His succession to the “throne” in 2020 post-Rassie Erasmus was welcomed by most who heard of it as he was in good standing as the defense coach when the Boks won the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019. And in the lead-up to the 2023 World Cup, it’s expected that Rassie and Jacques will work closely together.
Just kidding. If you’re anything like us, you want to know everything there is to know about the Springbok’s coach 2021, and we went out and did the legwork for you! In the paragraphs to follow are interesting tidbits that will hopefully help you see just why Jacques Nienaber is the Springbok’s best hope!
Springbok rugby coach
Snippets on the life & experience of Jacques Nienaber Springbok’s rugby coach
First and foremost, it’s good to know that Jacques was born in a small town in the Free State. He also attended a famous rugby school in Bloemfontein – Grey College. This particular college has been the source of not one or two but forty-six renowned Springboks! Jacques Nienaber claims he was never a “good” rugby player, which might surprise some. Of course, he was into health and fitness and was always found running, playing sports, and doing a bit of cross country.
So, what is Jacques Nienaber’s education like? Well, here’s the clincher. By his own admission, Jacques never had his career sights set on being a rugby coach. In fact, he studied physiotherapy, and he wanted to be the team’s official physio! Talk about a life path change! He didn’t entirely escape physiotherapy, though, because he is married to a physiotherapist, Elmarie.
Some may want to know if Jacques Nienaber and Rassie Erasmus have some kind of history, and as a matter of fact, they do! They met during military conscription in the 1990s, which gives away their ages but also speaks to a great bond. After qualifying for his first career choice (physiotherapist, remember?) Jacques went on to work with various sports teams. He then became a strength and conditioning coach for the Cheetahs, where Rassie taught him a great deal, which essentially helped him transition into the role of defense coach. Jacques’ career was on a roll; he just didn’t know it at the time – Rassie Erasmus had noticed his skill and earmarked him for success in the rugby world, including him on his staff when taking up the position of Director of Rugby for the Stormers in 2007. When the Springboks wanted Rassie on their side in 2017, Jacques was already “part of the furniture” on Rassie’s team of selected staff members.
And then came the success; the Stormers were formidable in their defense on the field, thus showing up Jacques for his great skill in his role. In 2010, the Stormers really showed off their newfound skills by qualifying for the 2010 Super 14 final. And then the Springboks wanted a consultant, and Jacques stepped up to the plate, priming them for the 2011 World Cup.
Just a few years later, Jacques Nienaber is selected as the Springboks head coach 2020, such succession within the ranks is undoubtedly a first in South African rugby. Now, when you speak to Jacques Nienaber about his role, he jokes about still feeling a little awkward when the players call for the “coach,” showing the humble approach of a great man doing great things for South African rugby.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell that Jacques Nienaber is good for SA rugby, and hopefully, he will drive the team to even greater success in the seasons to follow.
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